By Raetta Holdman

(CBS4) – A third of the teens in the U.S. who got COVID between January and April ended up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control. CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida addressed concerns for children and parents in his weekly question and answer session on CBSN Denver.

“This particular study did show teens can get sick enough to be in the hospital, be put in the intensive care units and in some cases, even put on respirators or ventilators,” he said.

Hnida did say a number of those teens were high risk with underlying conditions like asthma or were overweight.

He also pointed to a spike in infants through age 4.

“We think that situation has to do with children in that age group have really small airways so they’re more prone to complications and severe disease from any respiratory illness.”

Of real concern to Hnida was the number of teens and children who were hospitalized with COVID far exceeds the number we typically see from influenza.

“This is something that scares the heck out of me.”

“This is not just this year when flu cases were extremely low. This is actually looking at influenza over the past several years, so COVID is much more severe than influenza which is a disease that’s already on our radar as being something that is a concern for younger people.”

(credit: CBS)

Hnida said that emphasizes the need to get children who are eligible vaccinated.

“They can get COVID, they can get long hauler disease even if they have mild illness. It will not take their life but it can wreck their life.”

He also offered reassurance for parents worried about the long term side effects of the vaccine, pointing to new research. Hnida said the history of vaccine development has shown those effects tend to show up very quickly, usually within in the first 6 weeks.

And throughout the history of child vaccination in this country, only one vaccine had to be pulled from the market — that was for the treatment of an intestinal virus.

“People will say well, ‘COVID vaccine, it’s a new technology.’ If anything, this newer technology is felt to be even safer than what has been used over the course of the long history of vaccinations and children. I think this is a really reassuring thing for parents to know.”

Raetta Holdman